An Illinois Senate Committee approved legislation that would decriminalize the possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana Wednesday.

The Illinois Senate Criminal Law Committee approved House Bill 218 by a vote of 9-3. The bill was passed by the House last week and now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.

The measure, which was introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D.-Chicago), would make possession of nearly half an ounce of marijuana punishable by a “uniform cannabis ticket,” with fines ranging from $55 to $125. Cassidy stated that the bill, which would prevent police from arresting people for small amounts of marijuana, would help to prevent racial discrimination in enforcement.

The bill has 16 co-sponsors, and its primary sponsor in the Senate is Michael Nolan (D.-Elgin). As introduced, the upper limit on possession would have been 30 grams, but amendments brought the amount down to 15.

A House analysis found that passing the bill would decrease the number of Illinois prison system inmates by 115, and could save the state $29,335,700 over the next ten years.


Photo Credit: tanjila ahmed

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